Fly Fishing, Pre-Internet

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Remember the fledgling days of the internet? Everything was AOL, chat rooms, and dial up. Slow, slow dial up.

In the  past few years, have you considered how techno-deficient life was  in 1997? You weren’t going to be buying anything online, that is for sure. Watching movies? There were no VHS slots in computers… even really fancy Gateways. Between the speed of the internet and the meager dot-com offerings available, you’d be better off getting your news and weather from AM radio.

Surprisingly enough, fly fishing wasn’t on the bleeding edge of the world wide web’s progress. There were message boards and listings on eBay, but the information just wasn’t there. If you wanted to know stream conditions you had to call a fly shop. If you wanted to buy a fishing license you had to go to a Wal-Mart. If you wanted general information about the streams in a particular region you had to go the library and check out a book.

Or, if you were like me, you owned the “Trout Fishing Sourcebook.”

Continue reading “Fly Fishing, Pre-Internet”

Fly Tyer Creates Insane Bat Fly

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Jason Lund is a Swedish fly tyer, known as @onceandaway on Instagram. Recently, he sat down with a friend of Flylords, Hugo Harlin, to do some art tying and that’s when this crazy bat fly creation was born, after a 3-4 hour tying session. We got in touch with James to ask him a few questions about his spooky fly and how he tied it.

Flylords: How did you create those incredible wings?

James: Basically it’s a technique called origami wing that I learned from Hugo Harlin a while back. It’s a really good way of getting nice-looking wings I think. I’ve mostly used it in caddis patterns and it’s also surprisingly durable for fishing flies. For this Bat fly, I wanted to see how much you could shape the wing and since the batwing has a unique look I thought that it would be the ultimate challenge. I use a pair of tweezers and bend the hackle stem (on a half-stripped coq de Leon feather) in the places where the shape chances and then I run the wing through a nozzle (used for silicone tubes). That way the fibers align quite well and if there are some of them that end up wrong you can correct them with a dubbing needle while the feather ends are still in the nozzle. I’ve made a short tutorial (Youtube link in my Instagram profile) on how to do this technique on caddis wings and it’s exactly the same thing with this only the batwing has more ”bending points”.
I think there is still room for improvement and bolder shapes because the feather seems to adjust really well no matter how you want it. The potential of the technique is huge I believe!

Flylords: Was this fly freehand or did you have a design in mind when you started?

James: Well, it’s kind of freehand because I hadn’t seen anything like it so there was no fly I was trying to copy but I had done a lot of ”head tying” (trying out different techniques in my head) so the pattern was sort of clear. This is actually the second one I tried because I wasn’t satisfied with the proportions of the first one. It became a bit too fat basically.
Photos and fly by James Lund, check him out on Instagram: @onceandaway, and on his Youtube channel for more amazing fly tying content!

Continue reading “Fly Tyer Creates Insane Bat Fly”

Northwoods Musky on the Fly

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Joey Oesterle, Robert Hawkins, and Aaron Przybylski went to the Northwoods of Wisconsin to fish a Musky on the fly tournament. A couple of dudes drinking beer, a lucky pair of Nike Air Monarchs, 700gr full sinks, and addiction to musky… perfect for a weekend full of shenanigans. No fun was had….

Locked and loaded, no drift boat today power all the way.
The backseat rod organization for 99% of all musky anglers.
Morning beers on the way to the zone
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The musky being musky face
Maybe this one will work?
On the board!
Taste the rainbow.
A gentle reminder to debarb your hooks.
Ouch!
Let’s go Day 2!
The best fish from Day 2…a beauty!
Until next time.
The secret to every Musky Angler’s get up, Nike prostaff!

Photo essay by Joey Oesterle, check him out on Instagram at @joey.oesterle. Other anglers include Robert Hawkins owner of Bob Mitchell’s Fly Shop in St.Paul, MN @mnflyshop, and Aaron Przbylski, @stcroixpeezworth.

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The 7 Fly Fishing Books Every Angler Should Read

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Fly fishing, a small subset of the fishing world as a whole, claims an unnaturally large percentage of fishing books. Just Google “fishing books,” and you’ll see that nearly every result on the first page is related to fly fishing.

Maybe it’s because of the finesse of the technique, which lends itself to a creative outlet. Maybe it’s that trout and trout habitat are beautiful enough to inspire authors. Whatever the reason, there’s no shortage of good fly fishing literature out there, and that bodes well for anglers. 

Every fly fisherman should spend some time diving into books on the subject, both for practical and intangible reasons. Some books impart serious knowledge, from tactics and techniques to places to go. Others entertain, and some simply bring to light minute aspects of the sport that ring true for fishermen.

The selection of books ranges from classics that still stand the test of time, to new releases that often explain modern tactics used by extremely successful anglers. Whatever your style of fly fishing literature, there’s definitely a book out there that fits the bill.

 

A River Runs Through It

The River Why

The Feather Thief

The Longest Silence

Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die

Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg

Fly Fishing the 41st

 

1. A River Runs Through It – Norman Maclean

This book isn’t number one on the list by accident. The fact that it’s almost cliche at this point isn’t an accident either. The reason it’s on nearly every list out there is that it’s an absolute must-read for any fly fisherman. In early 20th-century Montana, Maclean and his brother balance family, life, religion, and fly fishing, and maintain their relationship despite very different life paths. If you read this book once, there’s a high chance you’ll pick it up again.

Image courtesy of Amazon

 

2. The River Why – David James Duncan

One of the few true fly fishing novels out there, The River Why is sure to hit home for anyone who has ever wanted to drop everything, buy a cabin, and fish every single day. This book follows Gus Orviston, who pursues his passion for fly fishing and learns a lot about fishing, himself, and love along the way.

The cover of "The River Why"
Image courtesy of Amazon

 

3. The Feather Thief – Kirk Wallace Johnson 

Though not directly related to fly fishing (the actual act of fishing is only referenced a handful of times), The Feather Thief is perhaps one of the hardest books to put down on the list. In 2009, a young fly tier named Edwin Rist broke into the British Natural History Museum and made off with hundreds of rare bird skins. These skins, some valued at thousands of dollars apiece, were like gold in the small, passionate group of traditional salmon fly tiers Edwin associated with. Some skins were returned to the museum unharmed, but many made their way into the secretive world of salmon flies and were never recovered. This book covers the history of the skins, the heist itself, and the aftermath. 

The cover of "The Feather Thief"
Image courtesy of Amazon

 

4. The Longest Silence – Tom McGuane

Tom McGuane is widely known as one of the best fly fishing writers out there, and many consider him a favorite writer of any genre. The Longest Silence is a collection of essays that range from trout to permit and everything in between. In addition to being a great angler, McGuane is a great storyteller and finds just the right way to convey what he means. Although McGuane has written multiple books related to fishing, this one is probably the purest fly fishing book he has.

 

The cover of "The Longest Silence"
Image courtesy of Amazon

 

5. Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die – Chris Santella

While most of the books on this list are at least somewhat reflective, this one is a practical read. Like the title implies, the book covers 50 places to fly fish around the world, with a couple pages dedicated to the techniques, access, and other pertinent information for each location. The real plus to this book is that despite being informational, it’s not a bore to get through. A lot of practical fishing books can be a little mind-numbing, but with vivid descriptions and amazing pictures, this one will keep you hooked.

The cover of "Fifty Places to Fly Fish Before You Die"
Image courtesy of Amazon

 

 

6. Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg – John Gierach

No fly fishing book list would be complete without at least one book by John Gierach. The hard part isn’t finding a book of his to include, but rather narrowing it down to just one or two. Having written over 20 fly fishing books, Gierach makes it hard to choose. Where the Trout Are All as Long as Your Leg is a good one, as it will resonate with something every angler is familiar with: favorite fishing spots. From appreciating a hidden gem that holds monsters, to finding solitude on a small creek, this book hits it all.

The cover of "Where the Trout are All as Long as Your Leg"
Image courtesy of Amazon

 

7. Fly Fishing the 41st – James Prosek

The concept behind this book is exciting in itself. Prosek decided to fly fish his way around the world along the latitude of his home, which is at the 41st parallel. The trip takes him through Spain, France, Mongolia, and more, and each place is unique. One of the refreshing things about Fly Fishing the 41st is that it highlights all the non-angling aspects of fishing that matter to fishermen. Interesting places, unique species, and relationships formed along the way are some of the best parts of fly fishing, and Prosek does a great job of bringing these to the forefront.

The cover of "Fly Fishing the 41st"
Image courtesy of Amazon

This article was developed by Flylords’ content team member, Katie Burgert.

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Faces of Fly Fishing: Joe Humphreys

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In anticipation of the worldwide release of the inspiring documentary, “Live The Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys” Flylords had the honor of spending a few days with Joe, exploring the story of this legendary angler, philanthropist, and teacher. During this time, we were allowed an inside look into the life of an angler who has helped develop the sport of fly fishing and dedicated his life to establishing the values the fly fishing community holds dear today. 

In order to see his full story as soon as it is released to Blue-Ray, and digital download, make sure to check out Live the Stream’s website, or click HERE to pre-order your copy of Joe’s once in a lifetime story.

Flylords: Who is Joe Humphreys?

Joe: I am a 90 year old man that has lived a, I guess, most unusual life. I’d like to think that through all of the adventures I’ve had, I’ve had a chance to give a message to so many people towards the preservation of our environment. My goal is, this is what we have to do, we have to save it. So, I think maybe the good Lord has put me in this situation where, working through him, I’ve done some good.

Flylords: How did you first get into Fly Fishing?

Joe: When I was six years old my father took me fishing. He was a novice, we both were naturally, but it was a sport that I ended up loving and it’s an activity that has brought so much happiness, and so much wealth; Not financial wealth, but spiritual wealth, and ever since it’s given me a life of adventure.

joe and friends

Flylords: For somebody who has never picked up a fly rod before, can you give them a reason to start?

Joe: Fly fishing is such a beautiful sport, and such an art form. It’s something that anybody can do. There are so many aspects of it so that it’s a beautiful game, but it’s an exciting challenge.  For somebody to take a fly line, attach a fly to the leader from the line, make the cast, and catch a trout? What a wonderful thing.

joe and a trout

Flylords: as a Hall of Fame wrestler and past wrestling coach for Penn State University, how could you compare wrestling to fly fishing?

Joe: Wrestling and fly fishing? They’re both physical sports. Secondly, the technique is so important. When you’re wrestling you have to set up your takedowns, you’ve got to move your opponent. On the bottom, you’ve got to be explosive. There’s technique and smarts involved, fly fishing is the same thing. You have techniques, you have to adjust when you’re fishing dry flies. You have to have great fly control so that the fly will float perfectly, drag-free. When you’re nymphing you have to make that tough cast at a distance so you can have line control and get the nymph to the bottom. You really have to respect techniques in both aspects of both games.

penn state

Flylords: let’s talk about your movie, “Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys”. How did this whole project begin?

Joe: Lucas (Director/ Cinematographer) came into my life when I was teaching at Penn State University. He had been putting together a video project called Penn State Fly Fishing, and asked me if I would help him. I said, “Well, certainly.” So, I did help him, and he did extremely well. I think he got an A in the course. Then, maybe 15 years later, he came to me at Lancaster when I was doing a fly fishing show and said, “Would you like to be the subject of Nomadic Studio’s first film on fly fishing?”, and I said, “Yes, I think it would be wonderful.” So as we started to work together as we’re doing now; interviews by the hour; it was stressful at times, but it was exciting.

Joe and his crew

Flylords: Over the last few years you let Lucas (Director/Cinematographer), Meigan (Director/ Writer), and Alex (Producer) into your life. What was it like working with them for so long, and what was it like letting these people into your life to tell your story?

Joe: It was, here again, a wonderful adventure. There was a lot of bonding and a lot of excitement; a lot of great days on the stream, success, failures; but with their expertise and their knowledge of this game… I was in awe. When it all came forth it was a thing of beauty. I was not only in awe of these two (Lucas and Meigan), I just fell in love with them. We’re family, and I’ll never be without them.

Joe and Nomadic

Flylords: That’s amazing, what do you think about the film, and why do you think somebody should go watch it?

Joe: I think the film has a lot to give. There’s a message of protecting our environment and what we have to do. One of my favorite subjects, and one thing that I’ve been working so hard on for many years is the restoration of Thompson Run. We made so much progress that has been highlighted throughout the film. There is also the fishing aspect. Have I helped people in this film? Have they watched what I do? Have I give them instruction as a mentor, and are they learning techniques and methods? And are they enjoying the thrill of catching fish? I like to hope so.

joes vest

Flylords: What do you think was your favorite part of the film?

Joe: So, there are so many aspects to this film. Meigan and Lucas, the producers, have done a wonderful job. I have so many favorite scenes in the film but I don’t want to give too much away. You’ll have to see it for yourself.

joe fishing

Flylords: Is it true you invented the “bow and arrow cast?”

Joe: A lot of people say, “Well, yeah. The bow and arrow cast. Oh, I’ve done that.” Well, I’m 90. The gentleman that just said, “Oh, I do that.” He wasn’t born yet, nor was his mother.

Flylords: Can you tell us a little more about this signature cast and how it came to be?

Joe: The bow and arrow cast came to me as a child. I was walking and pursuing brook trout out in the mountains when I was a very tender age. All through my early experience, there was nobody to show me or tell me what to do. We had in this area very few fly fishermen. Necessity is the mother of invention, so there were times when I was on a trout stream that I would make a little flip cast, get the line in the water, and then kick out a line into the currents to place the fly where it had to go. But then, when the water started to drop and there was clarity, those fish fled if I moved the rod around. So, then I learned to get a hold of the line, bend the rod, and basically create a bow and arrow cast.

bow and arrow cast

Flylords: I know night fishing is a really big love of yours. What makes you love it so much? 

Joe: There’s a sense of excitement at night. It’s like the ambience of the night itself. The sounds of the crickets, the frogs, the noise. It inspires me. To look at the heavens above with all the stars and the moon. I also like it pitch dark because that’s when the big fish really feed. Big trout have excellent vision, but at night it’s not as acute as daytime. So, when I’m working them, I have big wet flies. The pusher types. I commonly use the George Harvey night, and my own stonefly night flies. I will cast on top on occasion. Sometimes I’ll go on top just to hear the explosion of a big take. But, I have always felt that the big fish would rather just trap their food underwater and make it easier for themselves.

night fishing

Flylords: You were night fishing when you caught your state record brown trout. Could you tell us a little bit about that story? 

Joe: I caught the state record brown trout in 1974. I was fishing this patch of stream, and I heard a mighty explosion. I thought maybe a deer had jumped into the stream. But then, it went quiet, and I knew that it was a fish. That started my quest. Then, after working this stretch for a few years now in pursuit of this fish, I landed a 26″ trout in that area. I was on a high, and the next night I got a call from my friend Al. He said, “Hump, I’m sick of watching television. Go fishing tonight. I just want to tag along.”

After a few hours in light rain, I had caught a few good-sized fish. It was 1 am and Al wanted to go home. I said, “Just give me one more shot.” I made the cast, back under the brush to the far side. I swang two heavy night flies, then the rod stopped. I felt the take. I set the hooks and it was like somebody turned over a washtub. It just was a huge explosion. The fish ran down to a fallen tree. I had a heavy leader and I stopped the run, then worked the trout back to me.

I didn’t have a net, but a net wouldn’t have got that fish in. So, I finally got the fish in front of me. I threw the rod down, jumped in the water, got both arms under him, and threw him up on the bank. Al and I were on our knees looking at that fish and he says, “I’ve never seen a fish this big in my life.” And I said, “Neither have I.” And he says, “Is this a record?” And I said, “It is to me.”

It was 4am and I called up the warden. He said, “Why are you getting me out of bed? Are you in trouble?” I replied “no” and told him I had a fish for him to see. When he saw the fish he looked at me and said, “You’ve got the new record, 34 inches”.

joe record trout
Image courtesy of Live the Stream

Flylords: At 90 years young, what’s your secret to your longevity?

Joe: Always have something exciting to look forward to. All the time. Every day, I have something exciting to look forward to the next day.

joe and car

“Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys” is now available for pre-order for digital download on iTunes and BLue-ray. Watch out for the worldwide release on November 5th!

Don’t miss the inspiring life story of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys: a man who was born to fly fish, lives to teach, and strives to pass on a respect for our local waters. A visually stunning film, anyone with a pulse can appreciate Joe’s contagious spirit and, at 86-years-young, trout streams are his fountains of youth.  This is an emotion-packed adventure and Joe will catch your heart in this powerful tale of tenacity, life and love. 

Flylords would like to thank Joe and his family, as well as Nomadic studios for allowing us this time in Joe’s life.

Another special thank you to Black Mountain Cinema, in aiding in capturing these adventures.

Article written by Flylords Team member Wills Donaldson

Faces of Fly Fishing: Derek Olthuis

5 Easy Tips to Improve your Bow and Arrow cast

Can You Get Away From Everything

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Many people head into nature, be it for fly fishing or some other pursuit, to get away from everything. Everything, of course, is relative. You’re not getting away from the woods. You’re not getting away from fishing. And you’re certainly not getting away from yourself.

And no one is wrong for using that turn of phrase. Everything is normalcy. Everything is the suburbs. Everything is Monday to Friday and commuting and email notifications and go go go. All that is the everything you’re getting away from.

Getting away is good. We were made to rest. We were made to rest daily through sleep. We were also made to take an extended rest on a weekly basis. Whether your worldview is built upon divine revelation or materialism, scripture and science agree that your mind and body need rest. Rest isn’t just laying down with our eyes closed. Rest means stopping our normal, routine, everything and doing something different and rejuvenating.

You could say that when you get away from everything you’re purposefully getting into something.

Continue reading “Can You Get Away From Everything”

Maine Fly Fishing – Where to Go, What to Expect, Seasons & More

Maine is a beautiful state for all types of outdoor lovers. With the long coastline, mountains, lakes, and some of the best brook trout fisheries in the country, it is an incredible destination. Below, you will find information on where to fish, the laws, and even guides that you can reach out to.

The Best Maine Rivers to Fly Fish

The Best Maine Lakes & Ponds to Fly Fish

Fly Fishing the Seacoast of Maine

Maine Fishing Season and Regulations

Maine Fly fishing guides & Lodges

The Best Maine Rivers to Fly Fish

Rapid River

The rapid River is known for being one of the best brook trout fisheries in the entire country. Getting to the river involves either a boat ride or a decent hike, but the trip is well worth it. The river is not only beautiful, but it houses extremely large brook trout and a great salmon population. The sections from Lake Umbagog to the pond in the river are the most productive sections. You’ll find fly fishing anglers reeling in brook trout, salmon and even smallmouth bass (that they toss on-shore).

At the rapid river it is extremely important to get your flies deep. We recommend having heavy nymph set ups and streamers. You may want to check out our guide to fly fishing nymphs, or our guide to fly fishing streamers before you head to the rapid River.

Magalloway River

The Magalloway River flows into Lake Umbagog and holds some pretty large brook trout and landlocked salmon. The upper stretches of the river are not dammed and contain lots of native fish. Both the upper and middle sections of the river fish best in spring and fall when the water temperatures are cooler. The lower section of the river fishes very well year-round due to lower water temperatures. The lower section of the river is heavily fished, but you still shouldn’t have problem landing big brookies.

Kennebec River

The entirety of the Kennebec River houses good fishing due to the consistent flows and dams throughout the state. The river flows 170 miles in the state, but the upper section is most notably known for its great fly fishing. It is here that the brook trout grow to sizes greater than 5 pounds and the salmon are frequently longer than 15 inches. Anglers can also land rainbow trout and brown trout.

Lower sections of the river are extremely productive for other fish species. The river also get substantially larger as you get closer to the ocean.

Read More About the Kennebec River: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kennebec_River

Penobscot River

The Penobscot is Maine’s largest river with a length of 370 miles. It houses brook trout, salmon, warm water species, and even stripers further down south. This is a difficult river to wade. With its size is best navigated with a raft, kayak, or some other type of water transportation. If you can find the deep holes of which there are many, you will find some big fish. With the river this long and large you’ll find all types of water, so any angler can find what they are looking for.

Roach River

The Roach River starts at First Roach Pond in Kokadjo and flows into Spencer Bay on Moosehead Lake. This 6.5 mile stretch is fly fishing only, making it an outstanding fishery. The river has as many pools and riffles making it a great fly fishing experience. Anglers frequently hook into salmon and brook trout. Most fish on the smaller side but the river does house 3+ pounders. Salmon average around 15 inches in the river.

Androscoggin River

The most productive sections of the Androscoggin River are from the New Hampshire border to around 30 miles in to Maine. With easy access from the road and large portions being wadable, this river is extremely productive for fly fisherman. This River is frequently stocked, and native brook trout and landlocked salmon can be caught.

This is by no means a complete list of rivers. There are countless others with great fishing. Don’t believe us? Here is a complete list of all of the rivers in Maine: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rivers_of_Maine

The Best Maine Lakes & Ponds to Fly Fish

When it comes to fly fishing lakes and ponds in Maine, there are absolutely endless opportunities. The northern portions of Maine are filled with lakes and ponds that house large brook trout, landlocked salmon, bass, crappie, pickerel, pike, and everything else you could imagine. A complete list of rivers is impossible, but a list of lakes and ponds is even harder. Your best bet is to talk with local guides for an area that you’d like to travel to.

Actually, we found one resource that does have a list: http://www.maineflyfishing.com/ffowater.htm

Here you’ll find a ridiculously long list of fly fishing only ponds in the state of Maine. You’ll also see rules and regulations for those waters.

Fly Fishing the Seacoast of Maine

People in New England simply loves striper fishing. If you’ve ever gone, you’d know why. If you haven’t gone, you need to. Stripers are big, they are strong, and they are damn fun to catch. With Maine’s rivers running into the ocean, and such a large amount of coastline, there is a ton of water for fly anglers.

It is important to take a look at Maine state regulations before heading out on the water.

https://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational-fishing/regs-tips/index.html

This resource will give you the most up-to-date regulations.

You may find yourself asking: Where do I fish? The answer is pretty much everywhere. Wherever there is a bay, or wherever there’s a river flowing to the ocean, there’s probably a very good place to fish very close by. Keep your eyes open, or just contact a local guide. (see below)

Maine Fishing Season and Regulations

We obviously only condone legal fishing, so here’s just about everything you need to fish legally in state of Maine:

Licensing and permitting: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing/licenses-permits/index.html

General fishing regulations: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing/laws-rules/laws-definitions.html

Salt water fishing regulations: https://www.maine.gov/dmr/recreational-fishing/regs-tips/index.html

Special fishing laws: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fishing-boating/fishing/laws-rules/special-laws.html

Maine Fly Fishing Guides & Lodges

Maine is a big state, it has an absurd amount of rivers, Lakes, and places to fish along the shoreline. It can be a bit overwhelming to decide where to go if you are not familiar with the state. That is why we recommend reaching out to local guides that can get you on the most productive fishing spots, tell you what flies are working, and give you a great experience.

Here are some guides:

If you are interested in striper fishing, Shoals Fly Fishing can get you onto stripers in both New Hampshire and Maine.

Maine Guide Fly Shop can get you on stripers, brook trout ponds, bass, rivers, and just about everything else you could want.

There are a large amount of fly fishing guides in the state of Maine, so this is below list may seem overwhelming. We recommend looking at several of these, and picking the one that serves the area you’re looking to fish in.

https://thebertsfliesandguide.com/

http://www.kennebecriverangler.com/

http://www.rangeleyflyfishing.com/

https://twin-maple-outdoors.business.site/

https://www.coastalflyangler.com/

http://www.mainedeepseafishingcharters.com/

http://www.maineriverguides.com/

http://fishportlandmaine.com/

https://castawayfishingcharters.com/

https://www.westernmaineguideservice.com/

http://blueheronflyfishing.com/

The article was written by Fly Lords team member Max DesMarais of hikingandfishing.com.

Video of the Week: BIG LAND

Behind the Scenes with Tight Loops

Hard heads for dry flies

How a resin finish can help you get more out of your dry flies

by Chris Hunt

I’ve always been something of a ham-handed fly tier, and, generally speaking, the bigger the fly, the easier it is for me to tie. I’m a big guy at six-foot-five, and my hands correspond to my height. They just aren’t meant for detail work.

But I live in eastern Idaho, and right about now, my local rivers are starting to burst with tiny little baetis mayflies—Blue-winged Olives. As my son and I drove to school the other morning, one lighted on my windshield, likely emerging from a local irrigation ditch some time earlier and mistaking the truck’s glass for a clear body of water upon which to lay eggs.

“It’s so small,” Cameron remarked as I pointed it out to him. “Fish really eat that?”

“They eat a lot of them,” I said, wondering if I could somehow “get sick” and disappear up the South Fork to cast BWOs to rising trout that very afternoon. Responsibility kicked in, and after dropping Cameron off, I was back at the desk, working, but with a slight grudge.

It wouldn’t have been wise, anyway. My fly boxes are still in summer mode—fat ants and hoppers are mixed among a predictable assortment of Stimulators and caddisflies, attractor nymphs and the like. I’d have had to run down to the local fly shop and buy $25 worth of size 20 BWOs to get through the day.

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So, I sat down at the vise that night and started working up a dozen small mayflies, much to my own chagrin. This isn’t the kind of fly tying I enjoy. It’s dutiful.

As I noted, size 20 is really small for me. I’m honestly not sure how anyone ties, with any regularity, flies this size or even smaller without going completely blind. And, frankly, size 20 is about as small of a fly as I’ll put on the end of a tippet and still really enjoy the fishing. Having to size down even farther feels so technical … so desperate to match some microscopic critter drifting in the water column, that I just don’t glean much fun from it.

(I’m talking to you, you size 24 Zebra Midge fanatics).

But, on the South Fork, these tiny baetis imitations do, indeed, work, and size 20 is almost a perfect match for the naturals that start to pop in the afternoon.

My first attempt, years ago, at tying flies this small wasn’t a complete disaster, but I did find that my flies, on particularly good days, worked for about two fish before they just fell apart. For flies this small, I use 8/0 thread and hackles that match the hook size (or maybe slightly bigger, because they help me see the fly on the water—if I’m lucky). Inevitably, after a fat cutthroat or brown trout zeros in a fly this small, it starts to unravel.

Last fall, as I readied myself for BWO season (and it is a season on the South Fork), I took to finishing these small flies with the smallest dollop of thin UV-reactive resin I could squeeze out of the bottle (Loon makes a great thin UV resin, and I’m sure there are other similar products on the market). At first, predictably, I used too much and covered the hook eye. Eventually, I got to where I could place just the right amount ahead of the hackle and behind the hook eye before I whip-finished the fly. Then, I’d finish the fly, coating the entire finish knot in the resin. A quick shot of UV light is all it takes to really harden up the finish.

The result? A much more durable fly that last more than a fish or two.

I’m sure this is hardly a revelation for a lot of really die-hard fly tiers, but for those like me who dally in fly-tying kind of on a tie-as-you-go basis, I found this method a bit easier to use when putting the finishing touches on such a small pattern.

I suppose this was, more or less, a natural progression for me. I’ve been using UV resins on my flies for several years now, all with the intent of making flies last longer on the water. For streamers, the UV finish actually serves to brighten up heads with some shine, while also improving durability. For larger dries, like salmonfly imitations, hoppers, Stimulators and Trudes, a small dollop of resin does, indeed, add to a flies durability on the water without compromising their ability to float.

It was only a matter of time before I went full-on UV for the smallest flies I’ll tie.

It may not be for everyone, but it works for me. If you’re having a hard time keeping small flies intact on the water, give the head a small dose of thin UV resin and see if doesn’t help you spend more time fishing, and less time changing flies.

Chris Hunt is the national digital director for Trout Unlimited. He lives and works in Idaho Falls.

Don’t Fly Fish with More than You Need

Don’t Fly Fish with More than You Need thumbnail

Most fly fishers might be surprised by how little gear they actually need on the water.  Regardless if you’re targeting mountain trout, farm pond bass, or cruising flats fish, there are truly only a handful of things you’ll reach for on a recurring basis.

Personally, combining trail running with fly fishing has caused me to pare down what I carry and what I consider essential. It has caused me to assess what I use and why I use it. I’ve found that I don’t choose gear based upon weight or size. What I carry is what I absolutely need. Usually, that ends up being small enough and light enough to allow me to move quickly.

Here is one of my go-to fly fishing checklists. It is what I gather together if I’m going to be running/fishing.  But it is also all that I end up using on most of my fishing trips, regardless of  where I am. Here is the what and the why of my minimalist approach to fly fishing:

Continue reading “Don’t Fly Fish with More than You Need”

The Biggest Brown Trout in the World – Thingvellir, Iceland

Iceland, the land of fire and ice situated just below the Arctic Circle and above the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It’s home to active volcanoes, spouting geysers, thermal springs, thunderous waterfalls, vast inland glaciers and one of the cleanest environments you can experience. Although it is a remote island with a small population and little impact on global politics and economics It’s one of the most beautiful countries I have ever seen. I’m fortunate to call Iceland my second home. I have been spending the past two unforgettable summers as a fly fishing guide under @hreggnasianglingclub, guiding people from all over the world for Atlantic Salmon and Laxa Í Kjos the famous searun ghosts! 

Photo: Edward Smith

The last two nights before my season was over I was invited to go fishing with my friend @cezary_fijalkowski who is one of the most skilled guides at Thingvellir Lake. The lake is one of the most mystical places in Iceland. Biologists believe that it also holds the biggest brown trout on Earth!  The prime time for the ice age chrome brown trout runs are during April and May, occasionally you can catch some nice fish there during the summer months and Thingvellir Lake is officially closed in September.

Cezary picked me up at Kjos Lodge after my guiding session around 21:30. Our chef Sveni prepared me a nice sandwich to take away, I took some extra wool clothes and jumped in the car. The lodge where I’m guiding is just 30 minutes drive to the lake so after 22:00 I already made my first cast. Cezary was almost sure from the start I will manage to get my 90cm+ brown trout tonight! We fished pretty long fluorescent streamers from Cezary’s fly collection. I was surprised because my last trips to Thingvellir I was always advised to fish small trout streamers, but you know the saying “Big fly=Big fish“. Well, it rang true, in a few hours I landed 8 fish between 75- 83 cm but nothing close to the magical border 90 cm (35.5 inches). 

80 CM Fish (32 Inches)

It was close to 3 a.m and I was supposed to be guiding the next afternoon shift. As we were walking back to the car around the water, Cezary stopped me and said  “Make one last cást right here please“. I made the first cast somewhere into the dark, took a few strips and felt the hit. Basically the fly line just stopped and the “bus” started to pull. The important thing here at Thingvellir is to let the fish go as long as the fish wants, just be sure you have enough backing on your reel (200-300m should be enough). It took another 30 minutes of fighting before I managed to see the biggest brown trout of my life. Even now when I’m writing about this experience I still feel the adrenaline in my body. But even after I held him in my hands the drama was not over. The trout escaped from my hands and was slowly swimming away. I did not wait for any single second and jump on the fish right into the water. Its nothing you want in -2 C even you are wearing wool clothes. Water slowly swelled into my waders,  all clothes, my hair were wet, but the good thing was that I was holding the trout tight under my body. Cezary was just staring at me frightened before he started to laugh. Everything ended up well. We measured this fish on exact 90 cm of length and took some quick shots before release. When I returned back to the lodge it began to dawn. Well, the next guiding day was quite hard but I felt as obsessed by these Thingvellir browns and next night after my guiding shift we were heading back to the lake! 

First 90 CM Fish!

The second night prediction for northern light was on the highest level, the temperature was attacking 0 Degrees C and Cezary was pretty confident about another brown trout beast! His Pike Terror fluorescent fly was on fire again! The fishing was a bit slower than last night when all of a sudden I had been gifted to fight a fish while the lady aurora was dancing in the sky! What a surprise! This trout was insane, 95 cm long male, probably the fattest fish I have ever seen too! Thanks to my friend and excellent guide Cezary, these two nights will never be forgotten! I can’t wait to be back in Iceland again next summer and try to get a brown trout over 1m!

a 95 CM Beauty

If you consider Iceland as a destination to go you should. Chasing silver Atlantic Salmon on single-handed 7wt rods on surface hitch flies, trying to 80+ get Searun ghost on a little dry fly or catch your biggest brown trout ever on Thingvellir lake and as a bonus be surrounded by pure clean Icelandic nature and if you lucky watching lady aurora on the sky while fighting your fish! Everything is possible in Iceland!

Article by Katka Švagrová, a traveler, journalist, ambassador, and fly fishing guide at Hreggnasi Angling Club based in Iceland. Check her out on Instagram at @katka_svagrova. Photos from @cezary_fijalkowski.

The Volcanic River – West Rangá, Iceland

Photo Essay: Why you should fish in Iceland…

 

 

 

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